Sunday, June 29, 2008
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Since August 2007, the price of oil has nearly doubled from under $70 per barrel to more than $135 per barrel. This is of course a big problem for the world economy. Not only will it cause massive redistribution of resources from consumers to producers, but by making transportation and production that uses petroleum products as an input, it will slow economic growth. And many consumers, particularly in America, are shocked and angered by the high prices. And since it is election year in America, this means the politicians all say they will try to fix the problem.
But as we will see, it is politicians which have caused the problems in the first place, and as no prominent politician except for Ron Paul recognize this and wants to abolish these policies, they instead create false scapegoats. The most popular scapegoats right now are speculators. Investing in commodities has in recent years been increasingly popular and certainly a very successful investment strategy, the case for which libertarian investment superstar Jim Rogers laid out in his book Hot Commodities that I reviewed on the Ludwig von Mises Institute web page. The politicians and their collaborators now charge Jim Rogers and others who have followed his strategy of causing the commodity price boom they predicted and profited from.
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Yet this accusation is based on a complete misunderstanding of how commodity markets function, whether intentional or not. Considering how complex the functioning of these markets in fact is, it cannot be ruled out that it is unintentional. And even if it isn’t, people need to learn this in order to be able to see through the deception.
Starting with the basics, commodity markets can be divided into spot markets and futures markets. Spot markets are the markets for immediate delivery, futures markets are the markets for delivery at some future point in time, usually not more than a year or so in advance. As futures contracts are constantly traded, it should be noted that someone who buys a commodity with a futures contracts need not necessarily be the one that buys it at the expiration date. But this is not dissimilar to how someone who bought a commodity with a spot contract can sell the commodity to someone else.
And just as there is always both a buyer and a seller in a spot contract, there is always a buyer and a seller in a futures contract. Usually though, the buyer is referred to as having a long position while the seller is referred to as having a short position, but that is basically just semantics. People with long positions are in effect buyers while people with short position are in effect sellers.
What should further be realized is that first of all most commodity speculators invest in futures while what matters for the price of petroleum actually used in the economy is primarily the spot price. Note further that commodity speculators can take both long position and short positions. This implies that commodity speculators may not in fact be contributing to higher prices. If speculators as a group have equally large long and short positions then they will have no effect on futures prices, and if they as a group have larger short positions than long positions then their speculations will in fact lower futures prices.
Moreover, even if speculators as a group have a net long position, the speculators that pushed up the futures price in the first place will, once the futures contract approaches expiration date, face two choices. Choice number one is to sell the contract or sell the underlying commodity to some consumer once the contract expires. Choice number two is to put the commodity in some physical inventory and keep it there.
If the speculators choose the first alternative, then this will push down the price back to the level where it would have been in the absence of the original purchase. In this case, speculation will thus have no effect on the spot price.
If on the other hand the second alternative is chosen, then speculation will indeed contribute to higher prices, at least temporarily. But while that is a possible theoretical scenario, that does not mean it is applicable to the current situation. The fact is that there is no evidence of increased inventories. Indeed, according the Energy Information Administration, U.S. crude oil inventories were 14 % lower in the week ending June 20 than a year ago.
Some have replied to this argument by saying stock building for speculative purposes need not be above ground, it could also come in the form of producers choosing not to pump oil from the ground. But first of all, oil-producing governments is not what is typically meant by speculators. And the issue being discussed was the role of professional speculators acting on the futures markets, not what the governments of Saudi Arabia or Kuwait choose to do, so this argument is basically a case of changing the subject. And secondly, as it happens, no evidence exist that oil producers are choosing to reduce production for speculative purposes. Spare capacity among oil producers is relatively low, especially if you exclude spare capacity caused by, for example terrorist attacks against oil facilities in Nigeria.
What then is the cause of high oil prices and what could be done about it? As I indicated in the aforementioned review, the boom is primarily driven by structural long- or medium-term factors. Demand is growing rapidly because of the rise of China and fast growth in other emerging economies. Meanwhile, while global oil production is actually growing, growth is inhibited in the short term both because of various political factors that stop drilling and because of the fact that even where such political obstacles does not exist, it takes several years to actually extract the oil. Brazil has recently found vast new oil reserves, and no political obstacles exist there to prevent drilling, yet it will be several more years before that oil reaches the world market.
These political factors differ somewhat in their form, but none of them seems likely to go away anytime soon. In Nigeria, as was previously stated, constant attacks against oil facilities are holding down production there, and these attacks looks unlikely to cease. In countries like Venezuela, Mexico and Russia, hostility against foreign investments combined with governments and bureaucrats starving government run oil companies of competence and cash, means that potential oil production is held back. And in the United States, opposition to drilling for environmentalist reasons, mainly by Democrats, prevents increases in oil production.
Another factor that in the short term has contributed to the sharp increase in the price of oil is the Fed’s inflationary monetary policies. Because the price of oil is much more flexible than most other prices and it is immediately affected by, for example, exchange rate effects, the short-term effect of an inflationary monetary policy is much greater than the short-term effect on the more sticky prices of regular goods in the supermarkets. That the oil price increased so much after the Fed started its aggressive interest rate cuts was not really a coincidence.
What then can be done about the high oil price? The long-term solution is to reduce or abolish taxation on oil production and to abolish all regulatory restrictions (whether motivated for environmentalist reasons as in the U.S. or nationalist reasons as in Mexico) on oil drilling. Opponents of drilling often reply to this that it won’t provide any short-term relief. But while that is true, but there won’t be any short-term relief without drilling either and the point of drilling is to provide long-term relief. Moreover, their preferred solution of having the government invest in research to invent more so-called renewable sources of energy is likely to take even longer to provide relief (if it ever provides relief).
To provide short-term relief, different solutions are needed. This means, for example, that the U.S. government should start releasing the oil held in the so-called Strategic Petroleum Reserve, while the Fed should stop its inflationary policies.
Unfortunately, I don’t think any of these solutions are likely to be implemented anytime soon, which is one of the reasons why I am not as optimistic as Don Armentano about the possibility of a significant price decline in the near future. However, while the oil price is unlikely to go down, we should always remember that it is governments and not speculators that are responsible for the all-too-high oil price we suffer from now.
Posted Thursday, 26 June 2008
For international investment expert Doug Casey, there's more than a recession on the horizon? he recommends battening down now for the rough seas ahead... with some special information about making sure your investments can weather the coming storms.
I believe in the existence of the business cycle. That's partly because almost everything in life is cyclical, which has been recognized at least since the tale about Joseph and the seven fat years and seven lean years. The Austrian school of economic thinking explains why the business cycle keeps coming around and does so without relying on a soothsayer to interpret your dreams. I urge you to read the appropriate chapters in either Crisis Investing for the Rest of the 90's or Strategic Investing for a full explanation. But, in a nutshell, government intervention in the economy - through taxes, regulation and, most importantly, currency inflation - causes distortions and misallocations of capital that must eventually be unwound. The distortions degrade the general standard of living, and the economy goes into a recession (call that an incomplete cleansing). Or it goes into a depression - wherein the entire sickly structure comes unglued.
The last real depression took place in the 1930s. The economy very nearly went over the edge again in the early ?70s and again in the early ?80s. Both times massive re-inflation of the currency papered the problems over (but at a cost). Meanwhile, most importantly, continuing technological innovation and increased savings (motivated by the fear of bad times) led to recovery. Since then we've had 25 years of what Herman Kahn predicted would be "The Long Boom."
Unfortunately, much, much more severe taxes, regulations, and inflation have caused much, much more severe distortions in the economy - especially over the last 15 years. And the boom was financed largely by debt, which made everybody feel and act much wealthier than they really were. It's as though you borrowed a million dollars and spent it all on wine, song and high living. For a while, you'd have a high standard of living and perhaps have a lot of fun. But eventually, when you either paid the money back with interest or were forced into bankruptcy, your standard of living would take a painful drop. The U.S., in particular, has been living far above its means, burning up its own capital and trillions more borrowed from abroad.
This isn't news to readers of International Speculator or even the intelligent layman who follows the news. Oddly enough, there's one glaringly obvious thing that is not in the news today at all. That's the fact that interest rates - nominal rates too, but especially "real," after-inflation rates - are close to their lowest levels in history. And in today's extraordinarily risky environment, they're artificially low. This, and the reasons for it, should be headlines.
All over the world, but especially in the U.S., currencies are being inflated radically; M3 is rising at about 18% per year. Without exception, interest rates eventually reflect inflation. Therefore interest rates are going to rise radically. Governments are currently suppressing rates by lending money cheaply and promiscuously, to keep both borrowers and commercial lenders from going under. But rates are soon going to explode -especially long-term rates. My guess is that we'll see at least the levels of the early ?80s, which would mean 15%+ for long-term Treasury bonds. And I'll say that's coming within a couple or three years at the outside.
The government wants low rates, obviously, because low rates make it a lot easier for homeowners to pay their mortgages, among other things. But they forget that low rates also discourage saving - which is the one thing that can actually bring down real rates. Officialdom is between a rock and a hard place, and they're choosing to inflate the currency, hoping to stave off an epidemic of bankruptcy among consumers who borrowed and among the financial institutions that did the lending. The effort will fail and both groups will go bankrupt, simply because the whole society has been living above its means. That will result in large-scale commercial bankruptcies and unemployment.
Higher interest rates will absolutely hammer the economy.
It seems to me a near certainty that we're about to enter something I have long called "The Greater Depression." I suspect it will be inflationary (in the direction of what Germany underwent in the early ?20s, or Zimbabwe today), rather than what the U.S. had in the ?30s. I should somehow trademark the term "Greater Depression," except that I'm sure Boobus americanus would then blame me for it.
Here I'd like to pinpoint my prime candidate for the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, since it almost seems America has been reading pages from their playbook since day one. Many reasons have been evoked for the fall: moral turpitude, immigration, barbarian invasion, Christianity, lead pipes, etc., etc. My candidate is economic stagnation brought on by taxes, regulation and inflation. I'd love to discuss that assertion in detail, but that's not what this article is about.
What should you do?
Reduce your standard of living now (while the situation is still under control), greatly increase your savings (in gold, which is real money) and rig for greatly changed patterns of production, consumption, employment and business for a considerable time. The hurricane that's just starting to hit the economy will both trigger and worsen problems in other areas. Starting with politics, because nearly everyone today believes the ridiculous notion that the government should guide the economy.
Doug Casey is a best-selling author and chairman of Casey Research, LLC., publishers of a variety of subscription-based advisories for independent-minded investors. The above article is an extract from the International Speculator, now in its 28th year.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Of the Axis-of-Evil nations named in his State of the Union in 2002, President Bush has often said, "The United States will not permit the world's most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world's most destructive weapons."
He failed with North Korea. Will he accept failure in Iran, though there is no hard evidence Iran has an active nuclear weapons program?
William Kristol of The Weekly Standard said Sunday a U.S. attack on Iran after the election is more likely should Barack Obama win. Presumably, Bush would trust John McCain to keep Iran nuclear free.
Yet, to start a third war in the Middle East against a nation three times as large as Iraq, and leave it to a new president to fight, would be a daylight hijacking of the congressional war power and a criminally irresponsible act. For Congress alone has the power to authorize war.
Yet Israel is even today pushing Bush into a pre-emptive war with a naked threat to attack Iran itself should Bush refuse the cup.
In April, Israel held a five-day civil defense drill. In June, Israel sent 100 F-15s and F-16s, with refueling tankers and helicopters to pick up downed pilots, toward Greece in a simulated attack, a dress rehearsal for war. The planes flew 1,400 kilometers, the distance to Iran's uranium enrichment facility at Natanz.
Ehud Olmert came home from a June meeting with Bush to tell Israelis: "We reached agreement on the need to take care of the Iranian threat. ... I left with a lot less question marks regarding the means, the timetable restrictions and American resoluteness. ...
"George Bush understands the severity of the Iranian threat and the need to vanquish it, and intends to act on the matter before the end of his term. ... The Iranian problem requires urgent attention, and I see no reason to delay this just because there will be a new president in the White House seven and a half months from now."
If Bush is discussing war on Iran with Ehud Olmert, why is he not discussing it with Congress or the nation?
On June 6, Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz threatened, "If Iran continues its nuclear weapons program, we will attack it." The price of oil shot up 9 percent.
Is Israel bluffing – or planning to attack Iran if America balks?
Previous air strikes on the PLO command in Tunis, on the Osirak reactor in Iraq and on the presumed nuclear reactor site in Syria last September give Israel a high degree of credibility.
Still, attacking Iran would be no piece of cake.
Israel lacks the stealth and cruise-missile capacity to degrade Iran's air defenses systematically and no longer has the element of surprise. Israeli planes and pilots would likely be lost.
Israel also lacks the ability to stay over the target or conduct follow-up strikes. The U.S. Air Force bombed Iraq for five weeks with hundreds of daily runs in 1991 before Gen. Schwarzkopf moved.
Moreover, if Iran has achieved the capacity to enrich uranium, she has surely moved centrifuges to parts of the country that Israel cannot reach – and can probably replicate anything lost.
Israel would also have to over-fly Turkey, or Syria and U.S.-occupied Iraq, or Saudi Arabia to reach Natanz. Turks, Syrians and Saudis would deny Israel permission and might resist. For the U.S. military to let Israel over-fly Iraq would make us an accomplice. How would that sit with the Europeans who are supporting our sanctions on Iran and want the nuclear issue settled diplomatically?
And who can predict with certitude how Iran would respond?
Would Iran attack Israel with rockets, inviting retaliation with Jericho and cruise missiles from Israeli submarines? Would she close the Gulf with suicide-boat attacks on tankers and U.S. warships?
With oil at $135 a barrel, Israeli air strikes on Iran would seem to ensure a 2,000-point drop in the Dow and a world recession.
What would Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria do? All three are now in indirect negotiations with Israel. U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq could be made by Iran to pay a high price in blood that could force the United States to initiate its own air war in retaliation, and to finish a war Israel had begun. But a U.S. war on Iran is not a decision Bush can outsource to Ehud Olmert.
Tuesday, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Adm. Michael Mullins left for Israel. CBS News cited U.S. officials as conceding the trip comes "just as the Israelis are mounting a full court press to get the Bush administration to strike Iran's nuclear complex."
Vice President Cheney is said to favor U.S. strikes. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Mullins are said to be opposed.
Moving through Congress, powered by the Israeli lobby, is House Resolution 362, which demands that President Bush impose a U.S. blockade of Iran, an act of war.
Is it not time the American people were consulted on the next war that is being planned for us?
Friday, June 27, 2008
For a candidate who talks the talk on human rights, Barack Obama has little to say about the infamous School of the Americas (SOA). Originally established in the Panama Canal Zone in 1946, the school later moved to Fort Benning, Georgia in 1984. Since its inception, the institution has instructed more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers in military and law-enforcement tactics.
The Pentagon itself has acknowledged that in the past the School of the Americas utilized training manuals advocating coercive interrogation techniques and extrajudicial executions. After receiving their training at the institution, officers went on to commit countless human rights atrocities in countries like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Colombia.
Activists long lobbied Congress to shut down the school, and in the waning days of the Clinton presidency they nearly achieved their goal. In July 1999, the House passed an amendment that cut funding for the military institution, but the Senate decided to pass its own version of the bill that included funding. Compromise legislation between the House and Senate deleted the funding cut, effectively restoring public support for the school. Shortly afterwards Congress renamed the school Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) and revised the institution’s structure and curriculum.
Now fast forward to the 2006 mid-term Congressional election: hoping to make use of their newfound majority on Capitol Hill, some Democrats sought to eliminate WHINSEC’s funding once and for all. Shortly after their victory in November they nearly succeeded with 203 legislators voting against ongoing public support of the school and 214 in favor. The closeness of the vote suggested that if the Democrats were able to increase their legislative majority in 2008, then the WHINSEC might indeed be history.
Outside the halls of Congress a number of prominent organizations joined calls to shut WHINSEC including the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), the United Auto Workers, the United Steelworkers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the NAACP, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the United Church of Christ, and over 100 U.S. Catholic Bishops.
Still, the Democratic presidential candidates refused to take a stand against WHINSEC. In fact, the only two Democrats who expressed opposition to the institution were long shots Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich (on the Republican side, Ron Paul said he too would shutter WHINSEC).
In the early stages of the presidential race, Kucinich pledged to close the school if he were elected. A longtime foe of WHINSEC who had voted repeatedly to close the institution while serving in Congress, Kucinich even attended a political protest held at the gates of the school in late 2007.
But the question is: where does Obama stand? On International Human Rights Day last year the Senator remarked, “We in the United States enjoy tremendous freedoms, but we also carry a special responsibility—the responsibility of being the country so many people in the world look to… for human rights leadership.”
Obama then added that Bush had undermined human rights: “We were told that waterboarding was effective. We were assured that shipping men off to countries that tortured was good for national security. We were led to believe that our military and civilian courts were inadequate, and so we established a network of unaccountable prisons.” He continued, “We have not only vacated the perch of moral leader; we have also compounded the threat we face, spurring more people to take up arms against us.”
Obama lamented that the Bush administration had destroyed the moral credibility of the United States worldwide. In Darfur, Burma, Zimbabwe, Russia, and Pakistan, human rights violations were on the rise. Unfortunately, Washington no longer enjoyed any international respect and could not speak with authority on human rights.
Poignantly, Obama closed by stating, “The very depth of the anti-Americanism felt around the world today is a testament not to hatred but to disappointment, acute disappointment. The global public expects more from America. They expect our government to embody what they have seen in our people: industriousness, humanity, generosity, and a commitment to equality. We can become that country again.”
Obama likes to employ soaring rhetoric when discussing human rights. But late last year, he failed to take a strong position opposing WHINSEC. When pressed, the candidate praised Congress’ revision of the school’s curriculum but said that he wanted to continue to evaluate the institution.
What more information could Obama possibly need to reach a final decision on the matter? An Obama spokesman said the senator "has not committed to closing down the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, but he will take a hard look at the program and the progress it has made once he is elected." The spokesman reiterated Obama was pleased with the institution's inclusion of human rights courses.
To put this in all in perspective then, on this issue Obama has staked out a position to the right of Ron Paul, many members of Congress, and mainstream labor and Church organizations.
Given widespread public disgust towards torture and the like, Obama’s meekness on WHINSEC is perplexing. In the wake of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal and revelations about so-called waterboarding, many U.S. citizens have soured on the War on Terror. Meanwhile, the prisoner detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has become an international eyesore. Even President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have publicly said they’d prefer to close the facility.
Obama also supports closing Guantánamo, which makes his statements on WHINSEC all the more befuddling. In the present political climate, what does the Senator have to lose by coming out against the former School of the Americas? Perhaps he fears the GOP might accuse him of being weak on defense. But Republican nominee John McCain is not likely to use torture as ammunition during the campaign—it hardly seems a winning electoral issue for the Arizona Senator. What’s more, many voters are oblivious to WHINSEC and have little knowledge of, or interest in, U.S. policy towards Latin America.
No, it’s not fear of GOP retaliation on the campaign trail that keeps Obama quiet on WHINSEC. What the Senator is really concerned about is offending the movers and shakers within the military-industrial complex. Closing WHINSEC would demonstrate that the United States has no interest in dominating the peoples of Latin America by military means. Obama however is reluctant to make a clean break from the United States’ imperialist past.
On the other hand, try as he might to skirt the issue, Obama will soon be obliged to take a clearer stand on WHINSEC. That’s because the House recently approved the McGovern-Sestak-Bishop amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for 2009. The amendment obliges WHINSEC to publicly release the names, rank, country of origin, courses, and dates of attendance of the school's graduates and instructors.
Legislators pressed for the measure because in recent years WHINSEC has withheld vital information that would have helped to identify the perpetrators of massacres, targeted assassinations, and human rights abuses committed in Latin America. In a resounding defeat for the Pentagon, the measure was approved by a vote of 220 to 189. The amendment now heads to the Senate where all eyes will be on Obama.
The vote, however, will not resolve the larger question of whether WHINSEC should be shuttered once and for all. If it chose to, the media could prod the candidates to address U.S. military policy towards Latin America during the fall campaign. So far however reporters and pundits have ignored the topic, preferring instead to ask Obama about his flag pin.
McCain has suggested the two candidates participate in town-hall style debates, potentially allowing more direct engagement with voters. The U.S. public would surely welcome this departure from the relentless and insipid questioning featured in previous debates. It would certainly be refreshing to see Obama questioned on issues of real substance such as the historic U.S. role in Latin America, military policy, and human rights.
Jordan Maxwell and alex Jones discuss and highlight the differences between spirituality and the joke that is religion, especially mass consumerist corporate religion. In case you're wondering, TBN stands for Trinity Broadcasting Network.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Somewhere in the world, the warm fire crackles as giggling children, adorn their Christmas tree with the colourful lights that William Huang made in jail. A United States living room is coloured with the ornamental flowers he put together, glitter sticking to the sweat on his body, bursting calluses on his hands. Others, somewhere in Europe, chat and munch on the pistachio nuts that he pried open with pliers, or clambered over to use the open toilet, in the bedroom-sized production room that was home to over 20 prisoners.
Surely greater things awaited William when he graduated from China's prestigious Tsinghua University in July 1999, than slaving seven days a week, for more than 16 hours per day, producing cheap Chinese goods in a Chinese "re-education through labour" center. At least he can choose his destiny now, living and studying in the United States. But memories of electric batons, brainwashing sessions and sleep deprivation don't easily fade. Nor do the memories of his colleagues who are still in jail.
William Huang, whose Chinese name is Huang Kui, came to America in March this year, with fresh memories of what had happened to the first group of The Epoch Times workers in China, who suddenly disappeared on December 16, 2000. He and around ten others, mostly Falun Gong practitioners, had rented a flat in Zhuhai city, in Guangdong province, which became the underground office for the fledgling online publication. There were people in other cities helping as well, pitching in with time, or money, or both. His job was researching and writing international news articles, while others focussed on weighty domestic issues, especially the state's full-scale persecution of the Falun Gong meditation practice.
He has no idea how the police found them, but one day without warning more than ten policemen burst in, arresting everyone and seizing all equipment. 48 hours of sleep deprivation and interrogation followed. He and the others were charged with "subverting the political power of the state" because they had published articles exposing the Chinese Communist Party's (CCP) human rights crimes.
William was moved to the 2nd detention centre in Zhuhai whilst awaiting sentence, and he was interrogated almost every day for half a year, sometimes until 2am. He was then put to work, laboring at least 16 hours each day making ornamental flowers, Christmas lights, pearl decorations, and prying open pistachio nuts. At first they used pork oil for part of the flower-making process, but the guards soon ordered them to stop, as it would attract bugs that would damage the goods while in transit to the United States. He remembers the cold November days of 2001, when large, painful cracks formed on his hands.
After three months he had still not been sentenced. Lacking any formal appeal mechanism, he refused to eat. After five days without food or water, the guards chained him to a cross made of wooden planks. They pried his teeth open with metal pliers, pinched his nose, held his throat open with chopsticks and threw lumps of rice porridge into his stomach.
Tiger bench torture
From time to time he caught glances of other The Epoch Times workers in prison, and he once had a chance to talk to Zhang Yuhui, who was chief editor when the arrests took place, and who is still in jail. Zhang told him that he had spent 7 days and 7 nights on the "Tiger Bench" torture implement, for refusing to inform on others. While Zhang did not elaborate, this method is known to involve forcing a person to sit with legs extended on a long, thin bench, with ropes tying the knees to the bench. Objects are then forced under the legs to bend the knees the wrong way, causing extreme agony. Zhang had also spent three days tied on a cross, in a contorted position.
William was finally sentenced on September 9, 2002, after almost two years of open-ended detention. He had been given five years' jail, and was taken to Sihui prison in Guangdong Province. The slave labour was just as exhausting, this time producing high-quality sweaters, as well as rattan chairs and baskets. He tried refusing to do the work, but was forced as punishment to squat non-stop for three days. Another time he refused to kneel in front of several hundred assembled prisoners, so the guards kicked him to the ground and assaulted him with more than 12 high-voltage electric batons, causing his body to violently contract and convulse.
However, Sihui had something even worse planned for William: brainwashing sessions. He was jailed with eleven hardened criminals, who were made personally responsible for watching over him. If he refused to give up his faith in Falun Gong, the prisoners would be deprived of daily comforts, making them hate him with a passion. They would watch his every movement, and accompany him to the bathroom. He wasn't allowed to talk to other Falun Gong practitioners, or even exchange glances.
Having labored all day, when night came he was forced to watch videos and read books that slandered Falun Gong. Then someone would come to talk to him, to try to convince him to give up the practice. Thrown into the mix was sleep deprivation. For a whole month, the propaganda sessions lasted until 5.45am, and he was only allowed to sleep until 6am. Prisoners took turns to watch him. Sometimes he would fall asleep standing up, but the prisoners would shake him awake.
"For you Falun Gong, it is always legal no matter how we torture you," said the guards to him. "If you do not give up Falun Gong, you have only one end–death."
After three years at Sihui, William was released on December 15, 2005. Two police escorted him back to Tsinghua University. Nobody would employ him after his time in jail, so he focused on his studies and won a scholarship to Ohio State University. For security reasons he left without telling his friends or parents.
William is active in America, telling his story to those who will listen. He hopes Zhang Yuhui and Shi Shaoping, each sentenced to ten years, will be released soon from the hell that he experienced. He says he has seen in shops the exact same sweaters, flowers and rattan chairs that he used to produce, all at bargain prices. But he knows full well the human cost of these items.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who has introduced measures to impeach George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, said Thursday that oil executives who secretly met with the vice president in 2001 should be held criminally liable for pushing an illegal war.
"In March of 2001, when the Bush Administration began to have secret meetings with oil company executives from Exxon, Shell and BP, spreading maps of Iraq oil fields before them, the price of oil was $23.96 per barrel. Then there were 63 companies in 30 countries, other than the US, competing for oil contracts with Iraq," the Ohio Democrat said during a speech on the House floor.
"Today the price of oil is $135.59 per barrel, the US Army is occupying Iraq and the first Iraq oil contracts will go, without competitive bidding to, surprise, (among a very few others) Exxon, Shell and BP."
The New York Times reported last week that those companies, Chevron, Total and some smaller companies were set to receive no-bid contracts from Iraq's Oil Ministry. According to the paper, such deals "are unusual for the industry," and the companies prevailed over more than 40 others, including some from Russia, China and India.
In March 2001, two years before Iraq was invaded, Cheney met with top executives from Exxon Mobil Corp., Shell Oil Co., BP America Inc. and others on his infamous secret Energy Task Force.
Kucinich seemed to accuse participants in that meeting of plotting the invasion of Iraq. There's no indication that the participants discussed military action, although documents later released showed they did eye Iraq's oil fields.
The White House convinced the Supreme Court to let it keep secret the proceeding's of Cheney's task force, although the Washington Post later revealed most of its activities.
Kucinich accused the US government of forcing Iraq to privatize its oil fields, which are estimated to hold more than 100 billion barrels of oil, and keeping US troops at war to protect the oil reserves.
"Our nation's soul is stained because we went to war for the oil companies and their profits. There must be accountability not only with this Administration for its secret meetings and its open illegal warfare but also for the oil company executives who were willing participants in a criminal enterprise of illegal war, the deaths of our soldiers and innocent Iraqis and the extortion of the national resources of Iraq," he said.
"We have found the weapon of mass destruction in Iraq. It is oil," Kucinich continued. "As long as the oil companies control our government Americans will continue to pay and pay, with our lives, our fortunes our sacred honor."
Wed Jun 25, 11:41 AM ET
Returning from a brief vacation to Germany in February, Bill Hogan was selected for additional screening by customs officials at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, D.C. Agents searched Hogan's luggage and then popped an unexpected question: Was he carrying any digital media cards or drives in his pockets? "Then they told me that they were impounding my laptop," says Hogan, a freelance investigative reporter whose recent stories have ranged from the origins of the Iraq war to the impact of money in presidential politics.
Shaken by the encounter, Hogan says he left the airport and examined his bags, finding that the agents had also removed and inspected the memory card from his digital camera. "It was fortunate that I didn't use that machine for work or I would have had to call up all my sources and tell them that the government had just seized their information," he said. When customs offered to return the machine nearly two weeks later, Hogan told them to ship it to his lawyer.
The extent of the program to confiscate electronics at customs points is unclear. A hearing Wednesday before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution hopes to learn more about the extent of the program and safeguards to traveler's privacy. Lawsuits have also been filed, challenging how the program selects travelers for inspection. Citing those lawsuits, Customs and Border Protection, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, refuses to say exactly how common the practice is, how many computers, portable storage drives, and BlackBerries have been inspected and confiscated, or what happens to the devices once they are seized. Congressional investigators and plaintiffs involved in lawsuits believe that digital copies?so-called "mirror images" of drives?are sometimes made of materials after they are seized by customs.
A ruling this year by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that DHS does indeed have the authority to search electronic devices without suspicion in the same way that it would inspect a briefcase. The lawsuit that prompted the ruling was the result of more than 20 cases, most of which involved laptops, cellphones, or other electronics seized at airports. In those cases, nearly all of the individuals were of Muslim, Middle Eastern, or South Asian background.
Travelers who have their computers seized face real headaches. "It immediately deprives an executive or company of the very data?and revenue?a business trip was intended to create," says Susan Gurley, head of the Association of Corporate Travel Executives, which is asking DHS for greater transparency and oversight to protect copied data. "As a businessperson returning to the U.S., you may find yourself effectively locked out of your electronic office indefinitely." While Hogan had his computer returned after only a few days, others say they have had theirs held for months at a time. As a result, some companies have instituted policies that require employees to travel with clean machines: free of corporate data.
The security value of the program is unclear, critics say, while the threats to business and privacy are substantial. If drives are being copied, customs officials are potentially duplicating corporate secrets, legal records, financial data, medical files, and personal E-mails and photographs as well as stored passwords for accounts from Netflix to Bank of America. DHS contends that travelers' computers can also contain child pornography, intellectual property offenses, or terrorist secrets.
It makes practical sense to X-ray the contents of checked and carry-on luggage, which could pose an immediate danger to airplanes and their passengers. "Generally speaking, customs officials do not go through briefcases to review and copy paper business records or personal diaries, which is apparently what they are now doing now in digital form?these PDA's don't have bombs in them," says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center. More troubling is what could happen if other countries follow the lead of the United States. Imagine, for instance, if China or Russia began a program to seize and duplicate the contents of traveler's laptops. "We wouldn't be in a position to strongly object to that type of behavior," Rotenberg says. Indeed, visitors to the Beijing Olympic Games have been officially advised by U.S. officials that their laptops may be targeted for duplication or bugging by Chinese government spies hoping to steal business and trade secrets.
Steve Watson & Paul Watson
Friday, June 27, 2008
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, author of the rejected European Constitution, has effectively stated that the votes of citizens in EU member states will have no bearing on the future actions of the European Parliament.
The former President of France has told media that referendums, such as last week's key Irish vote on the Lisbon Treaty, will simply be ignored by bureaucrats in Brussels as they may hinder the progress of European integration.
A London Telegraph report detailed the EU kingpin's comments:
"We are evolving towards majority voting because if we stay with unanimity, we will do nothing," he said.
"It is impossible to function by unanimity with 27 members. This time it's Ireland; the next time it will be somebody else."
"Ireland is one per cent of the EU".
(Article continues below)
d'Estaing also told the Irish Times that after the rejection of the original EU Constitution in 2005 by Dutch and French voters, The Lisbon Treaty was a deliberate attempt to repackage the constitution in a more confusing format.
"What was done in the [Lisbon] Treaty, and deliberately, was to mix everything up. If you look for the passages on institutions, they're in different places, on different pages," he said.
"Someone who wanted to understand how the thing worked could with the Constitutional Treaty, but not with this one."
What kind of parliament completely ignores the will of the people, sets out to intentionally confuse the public into accepting legislation, flouts its own laws, and does whatever it wants without accountability?
The only reason the Irish were even allowed a referendum in the first place was due to the fact that Ireland's national constitution mandates that any amendment must be put to a vote, the country remained the only bulwark against the EU's final stumbling block to creating a federal superstate and completely eliminating all remaining vestiges of sovereignty. Other countries, including Great Britain were simply denied a national vote altogether.
Under EU laws, if one of its member states rejects a treaty, the EU is mandated to scrap the bill. But the European Union's contempt for direct democracy is likely to lead them to ignore the Irish referendum and pursue the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty anyway - underscoring the fact that the EU is nothing more than an illegitimate autocracy of manufactured consent.
The usual tactic of the EU is simply to keep repeating a referendum until they achieve the result they desire.
In 2001 the Irish voted No to the Nice Treaty and were simply asked to vote again a year later. That time they said Yes. In 1992 Denmark voted No to the Maastricht Treaty - and voted Yes a year later. The French and Dutch rejected the constitution in 2005 and the EU architects designed the Lisbon Treaty instead.
But this time the EU is set to go a step further and simply ignore the decision of the Irish people and the will of any future dissenting members, while breaking their own laws - proving once and for all that the body is completely illegitimate, dangerous to democracy and a de-facto federal dictatorship.
Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday June 26, 2008
Homeless people living in cars and motorhomes across the US are being joined by a new breed: the middle class.
As mortgage foreclosures continue to rise, growing numbers of middle-class professionals are losing their homes and downsizing from four bedrooms to four wheels.
With numbers rising, New Beginnings, a homeless agency in Santa Barbara, California, has launched a safe parking scheme, whose aim is to provide a refuge of sorts for those who have nowhere to go other than their vehicle.
Guy Trevor lost his job as an interior designer when the sector contracted thanks to the foreclosure crisis. With his furniture sold and his belongings in storage, he now lives in his car, spending the nights in one of the 12 gated car parks in Santa Barbara run by New Beginnings.
"I see myself as a casualty of a perfect storm," he said. "The people sleeping at the [car parks] are ... just like me. They come from normal, everyday homes. I think a lot of people in this country don't realise that they, too, are a couple of pay cheques away from destitution."
In normally affluent Santa Barbara there were 150 foreclosures last month, with a total of 800 for the year ending in May, according to the county assessor's office, which assesses property for tax purposes.
Each month, an auction of foreclosed properties is held on the steps of the Santa Barbara courthouse.
"The way the economy is going, it's amazing the people who are becoming homeless. It's hit the middle class," Nancy Kapp, of New Beginnings, told CNN.
Another of Kapp's clients, Barbara Harvey, 67, also lost her job and subsequently her home thanks to the foreclosure crisis. As with Trevor, her job as a loans processor was connected to the housing market.
Harvey now lives with her three dogs in her car, parking at night in a women-only car park run by the agency. "I didn't think this would happen to me," she said. "It's just something that I don't think that people think is going to happen to them."
The rise in the number of homeless people sleeping in cars has led to a clampdown in Los Angeles. In common with many US cities, it is illegal to live in vehicles on public streets. This year the city banned almost all overnight parking on residential streets. A first violation receives a $50 (£25) fine, while subsequent offences carry fines of up to $100.
"For more working class and lower middle class people, the car is the first stop of being homeless, and sometimes it turns out to be a long stop," Gary Blasi, a University of California, Los Angeles, law professor and homelessness activist told the Associated Press.
The city has the highest number of homeless people in the US, with an estimated 73,000 living rough. A survey last year of more than 3,000 of them showed that 250 were sleeping in their cars.
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
How is that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, a country we’re about to attack for building a nuclear power reactor, is commenting more cogently on our soaring oil prices than our own president, George Bush, who continues to perceive enemies everywhere, but sees no solutions to our oil price crisis in the immediate future?
In a televised speech Tuesday, the Iranian president, who was called “either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated” by President Lee Bollinger of Columbia University, said, with the precision of a graduate school instructor that he also is, that oil was abundant in the world’s crude market and that the current high oil prices were, “fake.” Ahmadinejad attributed the daily increases in the price of crude oil as “unwarranted” since the market “has more than enough oil.”
These comments were made at a meeting of the OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) Fund for International Development, not exactly a group lacking oil savvy. It took place in the central Iranian city of Isfahan. Like a good economist, he added. “The dollar is being manipulated weaker, too.”
Specifically he said, “At a time when the growth of consumption is lower than the growth of production and the market is full of oil, prices are rising, and this trend is completely fake and imposed.” He ironically attributed the oil price manipulation to “visible and invisible hands.” (See my The ‘Invisible Hand’ is picking your pocket for clarification on that last term.)
Ahmadinejad underlined the fact that “The price of oil is skyrocketing in order to secure economic and political gains.” Could that possibly be? Yes. “Speculation is the reason behind the increasingly high prices of crude, not a lack of supply,” the ‘provocative’ president added.
After all he should know. Iran is the world’s fourth-largest oil exporter. And probably the main reason we would like to get our bunker-busters around it, via us or our willing friend Israel. By the way, Israel just bought a whole bunch of them from us to blast through the Iranian nuclear facility.
Ahmadinejad, obviously no fool, pointed out that Iran has “repeatedly blamed geopolitical factors and the weak US dollar for the out of control oil prices.” Once again, he was on the money.
He added that “the dollar has already lost 15 percent of its value over the past 12 months against the euro, to $1.54 per euro. Since oil is priced in dollars [petrodollars], producers have had to increase prices in part to offset losses when converting that money into local currency.” So our sinking currency is at the root of the problem, which has to do with our excessive debt, the constant bailouts to subprime debt-ridden banks, to making war, and giving tax cuts to the rich, among a few of the reasons.
“As you know,” Ahmadinejad said, “the decrease in the dollar’s value and the increase in energy prices are two sides of the same coin which are being introduced as factors behind the recent instability.”
Oil prices have climbed to $140 per barrel of late. Yet they leveled, the Iranian President pointed out, as Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, announced it will increase output to its highest rate in decades. This as consumption has slipped as well, and there are signs that a slowing US economy could lower prices. Could it be that some hedge funds and oil brokers are hoarding oil futures?
Switch from dollars to a basket of currencies
Once again, Ahmadinejad suggested that oil should not be sold in US dollars, but sold instead in a basket of currencies. Of course, only one other OPEC member has suggested that, Venezuela, the oil-rich South American country that sells a good deal of its oil to the US.
Ahmadinejad reiterated that one of the world’s largest problems is the continuing decline of the value of the dollar. One wonders what ‘Invisible Hand’ is engineering that fiasco.
To ward of that trend, Iran’s leader suggested “A combination of the world’s valid currencies should become a basis for oil transactions or [OPEC] member countries should determine a new currency for oil transactions."
He described the dollar (as Bush once described our Constitution) as “a worthless piece of paper.” He even suggested that “'some big powers' have pushed the dollar even lower for a reason.” He said it was no accident that the dollar continues to decline. Could it be that our own government, with the help of the Federal Reserve and Wall Street’s top echelon, are leading us to economic collapse, so that the truly rich and ugly can buy up the market at a song, the way they did in the 1930s?
In fact, Ahmadinejad suggested, “For years they [some big powers] imposed inflation and their own economic problems to other nations by injecting the dollar without any support to the global economy.” This means that we keep borrowing from China, Japan, and dozens of other countries with stable currencies and, as the dollar declines, so does their investment in us, creating potentially disastrous results for their economies. Not nice business at all.
But then we are not living in a period of “nice,” “responsible,” “the common good,” “economic and fiscal responsibility,” et cetera. We’re living in the New World Order with an agenda of endless war to accomplish world hegemony any which way the neocons can. And thus, in speaking out, is Ahmadinejad, the so-called “either brazenly provocative or astonishingly uneducated” president of Iran actually trying to wake up the American people to what is really happening?
Think about it, especially the next time you drive up to the gas pump and the price for a gallon of regular has climbed to $5. You might not think Ahmadinejad is quite the wild man he’s made out to be. Nor is the Texas oilman president quite as befuddled as he seems to be, especially as the wealth of America keeps rolling into the hands of a precious and superrich few, mostly his friends.
But don’t think too long. After all, the US fleet is sitting, waiting to attack Iran, along with our good friends the Israelis pumped to blast away with their brand new US-made bunker busters. The question is are the American people the victims as well?
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
LONDON -- Britain is in the midst of an extraordinary national debate. It comes after the decision by a leading member of the opposition Conservative Party to resign his seat in Parliament and stand again in a by-election over the single issue of the erosion of civil liberties.
The politician, David Davis, made the announcement in the wake of a decision in the British House of Commons to extend detention of any individual for up to 42 days without being charged under anti-terrorism laws. It comes amid mounting opposition to the use of anti-terror laws for a wide variety of offenses, including, in some cases, minor transgressions attracting financial penalties imposed by local councils.
Britain’s Liberal Democratic Party, which came second in Davis’s constituency last time, has said it will not put up a candidate against him in the by-election, expected to take place next month. Even some prominent politicians of the governing Labour Party have announced that they will support Davis, despite threats that they will be expelled from the party. The volume of e-mail and other messages of support is extraordinary. Anti-terror laws, their use seen as arbitrary and widespread, are beginning to backfire.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown takes comfort in pointing out that two-thirds of the British people in a recent survey supported the extension of detention without trial for up to 42 days -- in effect, suspension of the right to habeas corpus for a period nearly equivalent to a two-month prison sentence. Supporters of Davis’s move say that if the British people really believe on reflection that that is what they want, then they should exercise their right to decide whether he should continue as their MP. At the very least, his resignation gives an opportunity for that reflection. Otherwise, the matter would be left to the House of Lords and courts. They are certainly among the guardians of our liberties. But it is essential that the citizen, too, remains involved in this debate.
The 2007 annual report of Amnesty International on the state of human rights worldwide says: “Powerful governments and armed groups are deliberately fomenting fear to erode human rights and to create an increasingly polarized and dangerous world.” [Amnesty International, 23 May 2007]
The message of Amnesty reflects something that has become increasingly obvious since 9/11. The ‘war on terror’ has left a long trail of human rights abuses and created deep divisions that cast a shadow on international relations, making the world more dangerous. In one of the strongest repudiations of the policies of Western governments, the secretary-general of Amnesty, Irene Khan, says: “The politics of fear are fuelling a downward spiral of human rights abuses in which no right is sacrosanct and no person safe.” She accuses governments of adopting policies which undermine the rule of law, feed racism and xenophobia, divide communities, intensify inequalities and sow the seeds for more violence and conflict. Old-fashioned repression has gained a new lease of life under the guise of fighting terrorism in some countries, while in others, including the United Kingdom, loosely defined counter-terrorism laws pose a threat to civil liberties, including free speech.
Among the leaders named by Amnesty International for playing on fear among their supporters to help them push their own political agendas and strengthen their political power are President George W Bush, now ex-Prime Minister John Howard of Australia, President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Nothing can be more serious than when leading countries of the free world find themselves in the same league as the most barbaric when it comes to human rights.
The 2008 report of Human Rights Watch mourns the state of democracy with these words: “Rarely has democracy been so acclaimed, yet so breached, so promoted yet so disrespected, so important yet so disappointing.” From Pakistan, China and Russia to Uzbekistan, Egypt, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, every dictator or totalitarian regime aspires to the status conferred by the label of democracy. They all used repression before. The rhetoric which President George W Bush has introduced since the beginning of his ‘war on terror’ and crusade for ‘democracy’ have given such regimes a new lease on life. Human Rights Watch accuses the Bush administration of embracing this route instead of defending human rights, because talk of human rights leads to Guantanamo, secret CIA prisons abroad, simulated drowning and other forms of ‘rendition,’ military commissions and the suspension of habeas corpus. Amnesty and Human Rights Watch are two of the world’s leading organizations in the field of human rights. How did they reach conclusions so bleak?
The dawn of the 21st century bears a strange resemblance to the circumstances that led to the grant of Magna Carta in 1215. In the early 13th century, King John of England had invaded France and, in the ensuing wars, had captured large pieces of territory in the west. By 1214, he had stretched his military too far and was defeated in the battle of Bouvines, near Lille, in that year. They were disastrous wars and the costs in terms of lives lost and money needed to finance them unsustainable. The king’s income from the occupied land in France had dried up.
The king demanded higher payments from his barons to make up for the deficit and more individuals to serve as knights in his military. He did not have much sympathy for his subjects. He appointed all of England’s county judges, who imposed harsh penalties on dissenters, seizing their properties and possessions in many cases.
In 1215, King John was unpopular. His policies in fighting ruinous wars and funding them through excessive coercion against his subjects generated resentment. At a time of economic difficulties, his proclamations to raise money and troops caused more hardship for the people of his kingdom. There was a rebellion led by some of the most important barons, who complained that the king’s demands had become unreasonable, breaking all rules of customary fairness. They were supported by the city of London and others not in open revolt. King John’s authority had already suffered in previous defeats and because of a bitter dispute with the pope over election of the archbishop of Canterbury. The growing rebellion at home posed a grave threat to his crown.
In an attempt to avoid a civil war, King John put his seal on two documents of concessions in June 1215. One was Magna Carta, the Great Charter of Freedoms. The other, the Charter of the Forest, promised the subsistence rights to the poor. Although Magna Carta was not a bill of rights for the king’s subjects, it had the opposite effect. Its principles remain the source of the most fundamental freedoms today -- for every individual.
The right to habeas corpus, prohibition of torture, trial by jury and the rule of law all derive from Chapter 39 of the Great Charter of 1215, which says that no free man shall be arrested or imprisoned or victimized or attacked in any way, except by the judgment of his peers or by the law of the land. Habeas corpus is an extraordinary legal remedy. It empowers courts, even places a duty upon them, to command the state to produce a person whose liberty has been taken away and show cause why. It is the ultimate safeguard against unlawful detention and is written in the American constitution, English law and all its derivatives throughout the world. That right is at stake here as the nation reflects on the extension of suspension of habeas corpus for as long as 42 days.
An adage used today by legal experts stresses that ‘justice delayed is justice denied.’ It is the basis for an individual’s right to be produced in court without delay and to a speedy trial once charged. Or it would be unfair to the injured party, who must be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The promise can be traced back to Chapter 40 of Magna Carta, in which King John agreed: “To no one will we sell, to no one deny or delay right or justice.”
A growing number of people in Britain are beginning to say these guarantees are at stake today. Questions are being asked where is this taking the country? Should a weak and tired government be allowed to get away with restricting the most fundamental freedoms when a large body of stalwarts -- politicians, legal experts, law-enforcement officers and enlightened citizens -- cannot be persuaded? Should a narrow victory in Parliament by nine votes (315-306), made possible by coercion and enticements, not make people think that more reflection and deliberation are needed on this matter, both inside and outside the House of Lords? If what the government can point to is one public opinion survey to justify curtailing the most fundamental right in a democratic society, then where does it lead to? Is the majority, indicated in opinion surveys, at any given point sufficient to target a particular community or to bring back hanging that much of the civilized world, except for America, shuns?
Such scenarios may seem democratic to some. But opponents argue that they quickly destroy democracy. To them, democracy is not just an abstract idea. It is about how people live in a free society. This is a debate that is likely to continue in the United Kingdom well after President George W Bush leaves the White House in January 2009, and until the next general election in Britain in 2010.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
A schoolboy aged 12 has been identified as an al-Qaeda inspired extremist after sending beheading videos to his classmates, police have disclosed.
Anti-terrorism chiefs have said the example revealed how violent extremism is spreading “like a virus infecting young minds”.
The blonde, white schoolboy from West Yorkshire is among 120 people being dealt with by police in a new anti-terrorism scheme targeting al-Qa’eda inspired youths.
He has been identified only by the initials BC and was reported by his school after he was found circulating video clips of terrorists beheading Westerners.
Sir Norman Bettison, Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, said: "That was bad enough, but he also has an unnatural interest in guns and weapons.
“He spoke openly of his wish to be a sniper and spoke of his curiosity of what it would be like to kill someone.”
Sir Norman described him as an “angelic looking boy” whose police mugshot showed a fair-haired child so short that his head was barely in the frame of the camera.
“He is at risk of being a violent young man and a threat to society,” the chief constable said.
“He is not a Muslim. He is not driven by ideology – he is too young to spell the word.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Following in the footsteps of Fox News, and almost word for word repeating unsubstantiated claims by the head of the CIA, ABC News ran a piece earlier this week alleging that white westerners are being trained in Al Qaeda terror camps in Pakistan with the intention of carrying out attacks in Europe and the USA.
The ABC report appeared on World News With Charles Gibson this past Monday. Gibson stated:
"Intelligence officials say it is their number one concern. Caucasians from a European country who have graduated from an al Qaeda training camp. Such potential terrorists would be dressed in western clothing, drawing little notice as they board a plane bound for the US, coming to launch an attack. There's no indication such an attack is imminent, but this scenario is of great concern to experts in and out of the government."
In addition, an article from the London Telegraph today relates that police in Yorkshire have identified a 12 year old blonde haired schoolboy as an Al Qaeda extremist after he sent links to beheading videos posted on the internet to his classmates.
The boy was reported to police by his school, who also indicated that he had an "unnatural interest in guns and weapons".
Clearly the child is a hardcore terrorist.
Police revealed that they are monitoring hundreds of children in a new anti-terrorism scheme which is designed to "target al-Qaeda inspired youths".
(Article continues below)
As we have documented, the blue eyed blonde haired Al-Qaeda line is a familiar talking point that has been pushed on Fox News and within other Neo-Con circles in an attempt to turn the anti-terror apparatus around to target dissidents, protesters and the American people in general.
The origin of the concept was based on a comment by a single MI5 source that was subsequently picked up in a Scotsman article back in January, which claimed that Al-Qaeda have recruited 1,500 white Britons to carry out attacks in the UK.
Since that time the corporate media has increasingly focused on the idea and returned to the story again and again.
This hype culminated in a March announcement by CIA boss Michael Hayden that Al-Qaeda is training new fighters that "look western" and could easily cross U.S. borders.
"They are bringing operatives into that region for training -- operatives that wouldn't attract your attention if they were going through the customs line at Dulles (airport outside Washington) with you when you were coming back from overseas," Hayden told NBC's Meet The Press.
"(They) look western (and) would be able to come into this country without attracting the kinds of attention that others might," he added, with Reuters forced to point out that Hayden offered nothing to substantiate his claim.
In addition, the concept was even debated earlier this month by elitists at the secretive 2008 Bilderberg meeting.
Sources inside the meeting leaked details of elitist talking points which included the need to highlight a new phenomenon of terrorist groups, recruits and sympathizers identified as blonde haired, blue eyed westerners.
"Under the heading of resisting terrorism there were points made about how the terrorist organizations are recruiting people who do not look like terrorists - blonde, blue eyed boys - they're searching hard for those types to become the new mad bombers," reported veteran Bilderberg sleuth Jim Tucker.
Paul Joseph Watson
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Sweeping new policies set to be introduced in the UK will mandate parents to get government permission to kiss their children or take them to the swimming pool in public, measures that are "poisoning" relationships between the generations, according to respected sociologist Professor Frank Furedi.
A quarter of the entire adult population of the United Kingdom will be mandated to pass a state check operated by a newly formed government agency to have any physical contact with children under the age of 16 in public - including their own kids.
"From next year the new Independent Safeguarding Authority will require any adult who come into contact with children or vulnerable adults either through their work or in voluntary groups to be vetted," according to a London Telegraph report.
(Article continues below)
In a think tank report, Professor Furedi highlighted cases where government checks were already being required by schools and other organizations for parents to merely interact with their own children in public.
In one example, a woman could not kiss her daughter goodbye on a school trip because she had not been vetted.
In another, a mother was surprised to be told by another parent that she and her husband were "CRB checked" when their children played together.
In a third example, a father was given "filthy looks" by a group of mothers when he took his child swimming on his own in "a scene from a Western when the room goes silent and tumbleweed blows across the foreground".
As a result ordinary parents - many of whom are volunteers at sports and social clubs - now find themselves regarded "potential child abusers".
Despite the fact that cases of child abduction in the UK have steadily dropped since the 1970's, government fearmongering and media scare campaigns have created the illusion that pedophiles are roaming around everywhere preying on children. Child abuse numbers are also being artificially inflated by charities like the NSPCC - who were caught faking abuse cases to generate cash donations.
In reality, as we have consistently highlighted, by far the highest ratio of child abuse and pedophilia per head is found in government institutions and other state-run programs tasked with "protecting" children.
In this clip, Alex discusses how a culture of pedophilia permeates government and branches of social services, why sex predators are enabled to conduct their activities by using the instruments of state, with a spotlight on cases of abuse in Texas and the U.S. government's attempts to cover it up.
In America, CPS workers who take children from loving homes and hand them over to child abusers are not even disciplined, while horror stories about the insane actions of Child Protective Services abound.
The CIA and government officials have also been implicated in numerous child sex trafficking rings in the U.S., including a major case that centered around the abduction of Iowa paperboy Johnny Gosch, who vanished without a trace in 1982.
In a recent case, the U.S. State Department was implicated as being involved in a major international child abduction scandal.
On a wider scale, in almost every case of human trafficking for child sex slavery, from Chile to Australia, to Bosnia, to Portugal, to Belgium, court proceedings get shut down or diverted when a clear connection to government officials, politicians and judges arises.
The agenda behind sweeping measures sold as "child protection" is to take away parents' rights and hand them over to the state, as happened in HItler Germany and other dictatorships throughout history.
Once the state gets its hands on your kids, they can mould them into good little Stasi agents who will gleefully inform on you for the most benevolent of actions, such as the use of minor physical discipline, which can easily be deemed "child abuse".
At best power mad control freaks - and at worst child abusers and pedophiles themselves - are crafting laws to dictate how parents can behave around their own children. This is one of the fundamental benchmarks of tyranny and a psychological assault on the very foundation of our society.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
The 4th Amendment to the US constitution is just one more thing that has been murdered since bloody Emperor George took office in 2001: Over 4000 US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan; over one million Iraqis and Afghanis and many of our brothers and sisters in this country who have been either killed or devastated by catastrophic climate change and other violence that has become rampant.
Among the things that have been murdered in George's quest to be the emperor of a vast US corporate-military empire are many aspects of our constitution.
The First Amendment has been obliterated with "free speech" zones; the arrests of thousands of activists trying to express their freedom of speech; the destruction of the "freedom of the press" clause began during the Reagan years and it's untimely demise was hastened during the Clinton regime; the US technically has no state religion, but Christianity has been informally shoved down our throats with the Emperor getting revelations from his demented God that tells him to go on crusades against Muslim countries.
"Torture memos" written by law professors; torture camps; and extreme rendition slaughtered the 8th Amendment that prohibits "cruel and unusual" punishment. The Military Commission and Patriot Acts dealt the deathblows to the 8th Amendment.
When Congress gave Emperor George the power to invade sovereign countries without a declaration of war from Congress---the Emperor's loyal and obedient servants destroyed two clauses of the Constitution: the Supremacy Clause (Art. VI, Clause 2) which states the treaties are the "Supreme" law of the land and the enumerated power of Congress to "declare war" (Art. I, Section 8).
Art. II, Section 4 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to remove a criminal administration, but the Queen of the Imperial rubber stamp arm of the empire, Nancy Pelosi, took that clause "Off the table." When I hear that phrase, I envision a long table with lords and ladies pigging out on a banquet while the peasants starve because justice is not on that table and economic equality is out of the question.
Now, with the new law granting immunity to telecom companies and granting the federal government wide discretionary powers in spying on our communications (which has become far simpler in this electronic day and age), the Imperial rubber stamp arm of the federal government has brutally murdered another of our precious rights: the 4th Amendment which states: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
The centuries old right of habeas corpus which protected us from arbitrary state action through unlawful detention was also destroyed, so the US has returned to pre-Magna Carta "jurisprudence" and not one of us is safe from the arbitrary crimes of the police-empire that has replaced our representative republic.
Even thought the 4th Amendment was 217 years old, it died a violent and untimely death.
I am calling for a memorial service for the 4th Amendment on Tuesday, June 24th. We in San Francisco will be gathering at City Hall at 3pm and having a solemn funeral procession to the Federal building at 3:30 pm. We will then eulogize the 4th Amendment and give it a proper send off. It served us well. Many of our brothers and sisters have never felt its presence, though, even though they have been working for civil rights for generations.
Wear black. We are a nation in mourning for our rule of law.
If you can't join us in San Francisco, please organize a memorial service of your own.
For more info: call 415-621-5027 or email: - firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, June 23, 2008
Top McCain strategist Charlie Black tells Fortune Magazine that a terrorist attack on U.S. soil would aid the Arizona Senator to overturn Barack Obama's lead and be a "big advantage" in helping him become President.
In an article entitled The evolution of John McCain, Black notes that the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December "helped" the McCain campaign because it gave the Senator an opportunity to grandstand as a tough would-be Commander-in-Chief.
Black then brazenly points out that another 9/11-style attack would give the McCain campaign the boost it needs to claw back Barack Obama's estimated 7 per cent lead over the Senator.
(Article continues below)
The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an "unfortunate event," says Black. "But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who's ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us." As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. "Certainly it would be a big advantage to him," says Black.
In response to the comments, CNN's Jack Cafferty today asked his audience if Black should be fired.
"Who says this stuff? Black has already come under fire for his work on behalf of an international assortment of goons, thugs, autocrats, and dictators… from whom he took tons of money in exchange for arranging access to the power corridors of Washington. Black has resigned from his work as a lobbyist," writes Cafferty.
"Here’s my question to you: Should McCain adviser Charlie Black be fired for saying a terrorist attack would help McCain’s chances?"
Black's comments follow a lineage of outrageous statements on behalf of Neo-Cons and administration officials who yearn for terror as a means of entrenching political power.
In a Washington Times report last month, national intelligence spooks all but promised that history would be repeated for a third time running, and the new President of the United States will be welcomed into office by a terror attack that will occur within the first year of his tenure.
In addition, shocking excerpts of confidential recordings recently released under the Freedom of Information Act feature former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld talking with top military analysts about how a flagging Neo-Con political agenda could be successfully restored with the aid of another terrorist attack on America.
Numerous Neo-Con's morbid fascination and bloodlust for terror attacks and dead Americans to rescue their flagging political agenda has spilled out in public statements over the last year.
The real terrorists are coming out of the closet as they can no longer conceal their desire to see more carnage in U.S. cities.
The latest example was former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who during a Long Island bookstore appearance stated, "The more successful they've been at intercepting and stopping bad guys, the less proof there is that we're in danger. And therefore, the better they've done at making sure there isn't an attack, the easier it is to say, 'Well, there never was going to be an attack anyway.' And it's almost like they should every once in a while have allowed an attack to get through just to remind us."
In August last year Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky openly called for "another 9/11" that "would help America" restore a "community of outrage and national resolve".
Lt.-Col. Doug Delaney, chair of the war studies program at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, told the Toronto Star last July that "The key to bolstering Western resolve is another terrorist attack like 9/11 or the London transit bombings of two years ago."
The same sentiment was also explicitly expressed in a 2005 GOP memo, which yearned for new attacks that would "validate" the President's war on terror and "restore his image as a leader of the American people."
Also in July 2007, former Republican Senator Rick Santorum suggested that a series of "unfortunate events," namely terrorist attacks, will occur within the next year and change American citizen's perception of the war.
And the month before that, the new chairman of the Arkansas Republican Party Dennis Milligan said that there needed to be more attacks on American soil for President Bush to regain popular approval.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
European governments have failed to live up to their responsibilities under international law for the parts they played in covert US rendition and secret detention programmes, Amnesty International says in a report released on Tuesday.
The report says European nations are culpable for breaches of international law even if they merely turned a blind eye to US actions.
The report says much about the programmes, including which states were implicated and their level of involvement, remains unknown. But it said European states helped the US in several ways.
The assistance included European officials helping with arbitrary detentions that led to renditions; the hosting of so-called “black sites” or secret detention centres on European soil; allowing US Central Intelligence Agency aeroplanes to carry detainees through European airports; and interrogation by European agents or the sending of questions to places where detainees faced a risk of torture.
The report describes cases involving Sweden, Germany, Italy, Macedonia and Bosnia. It also raises questions about the UK’s role in the detention and later transfer of Martin Mubanga, a British national, and Bisher al-Rawi and Jamil el-Banna, two UK residents.
It also focuses on the case of Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian national and UK resident. Mr Mohamed was rendered in 2002, allegedly tortured in Morocco, and has been detained for almost four years at Guantánamo Bay.
All four men were handed over to the US in third countries – neither the US nor the UK – and then taken to Guantánamo.
The report urges all European governments to adopt six measures on renditions – condemning the practice, launching independent investigations, ensuring oversight of intelligence agencies, refusing to assist in future transfers, bringing perpetrators to justice and providing reparation for past victims.
Monday, June 23, 2008
A study for the Climate Institute predicts that Australia's cost of living will rise dramatically under the carbon trading scheme.
Worryingly for the Government, the poll also revealed 71 per cent of Queenslanders were against an increase in petrol taxes to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.Carbon compensation for families 'more than $1.6bn'
By Steve Lewis * Carbon compo for families $1.6bn a year * $500m a year to protect poor, aged * In pictures: Victims of the crash
THE Rudd Government faces a massive payout of more than $1.6 billion a year to families, to offset rising energy and fuel prices under a new emissions trading system (ETS).
Annual payments of about $500 million alone will be needed to protect the poor and the aged from a projected spike in electricity and gas prices.
A landmark CSIRO study, to be released today, reveals the high costs of going green and comes just weeks before the Government releases a crucial discussion paper on carbon trading.
The study also finds an emissions trading system to be introduced from 2010 will raise more than $8 billion in additional revenue for Canberra.
This will give the Government plenty of financial scope to deliver tax cuts and other payments to soften the blow of rising weekly bills.
The CSIRO report, commissioned for the Climate Institute, found average families will face price rises of up to $10 a week for electricity, gas and petrol.
If the Government wants to compensate families on average incomes, it will have to pay out up to $336 million by 2015, rising to $557 million by 2020. But, with struggling families battling to contain rising petrol prices, the Government will be under pressure to extend payments to most families.
This could see the Government paying out $1.7 billion in compensation by 2015, rising to $1.9 billion by 2025.
The CSIRO report argues that "deep cuts in greenhouse emissions" are possible in Australia without reducing living standards.
"Well-designed policy measures can protect low and middle-income households from potential short-run declines in energy affordability," it states.
The carbon trading scheme will start within two years as the centrepiece of Kevin Rudd's commitment to curb damaging greenhouse gases. Under the "cap and trade" scheme, heavy polluters will have to buy permits - increasing the incentive on business to embrace low-emission technologies. Higher energy costs are inevitable, with low-income families particularly vulnerable.
The CSIRO report says a yearly payment of $185 by 2015 "would fully insulate low-income households from the impact of very high carbon prices on household energy consumption"."For low income families, concerns about the increased costs of energy and other goods and services are real," said Climate Institute policy director Erwin Jackson, adding they could be overcome with "a fair and effective distribution of the multi-billion dollar bonus to government coffers provided by the ETS".
Saturday, June 21, 2008
This is how the forced merger of Russian communism with western democracy is actually being implemented by stealth. The bottom line is that the usurpers of freedom, liberty and national self determination are dedicated to destroying you,your finances, your family and your way of life. The New World Order requires that the enslaved get absolutely nothing more than a miserable life and even greater miserable death. This is always the price tag when free people give in to subtle tyranny! This video is "must see"!
This presentation was given at Leicester England. MEP Roger Helmer came specially to be there and guest host the meeting. Edward Spalton of the CIB (Campaign for an Independent Britain) gave a short introduction. The presentation was given by Brian Gerrish on his researches concerning Common Purpose
Friday, June 20, 2008
Last week, after the Supreme Court ruled that habeas corpus protections apply to detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) denounced it as “one of the worst decisions in the history of this country.” At a townhall in New Jersey, McCain railed against the “unaccountable judges” who made the decision.
On Sunday, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol suggested that McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) would soon introduce legislation to undermine the decision by creating national security courts. But Graham has also floated another option for blunting the decision:
The Court?s decision is bad on many levels and I will continue to review the decision and determine its sweeping effect on our military. I will also explore the possibility, if necessary, of a constitutional amendment to blunt the effect of this decision when it comes to protecting our men and women in the military and our nation as a whole.
According to the Boston Globe, Graham raised the constitutional amendment at a news conference with McCain last Friday and McCain “did not rule out that option“:
Graham, a close adviser to McCain on military and justice issues, said Thursday the Constitution might need to be amended to override the Supreme Court ruling. McCain did not rule out that option yesterday but said there are other avenues available, including drafting a new law to limit detainees’ access to federal courts.
Considering that McCain’s camp has made a concerted effort in the past three days to make the Supreme Court’s decision a central issue in the 2008 campaign, McCain should definitively answer the question: Would he support a Constitutional amendment to override the Supreme Court’s ruling in Boumediene v. Bush?
Friday, June 20, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
Perhaps you saw the photo. It showed Barack Obama with a group of his supporters holding signs bearing the word "change." And news analysts informed us that one reason the Clinton campaign faltered (they apparently don’t consider the possibility that the people simply didn’t want her) was that she underestimated the public’s desire for "change."
I doubt it. In the first place, the last thing any establishment-approved politician would desire is change. In the second, if the people actually wanted change, they could have picked Ron Paul, who would bring about real, not simply rhetorical, change.
For instance, what "change" has Obama proposed, which would not be likely to occur under a Clinton presidency? Can his supporters actually cite specific significant changes that he would effect when elected? Would he, for example, abolish the Federal Reserve? Would he "privatize" social security? Would he, in contrast to Clinton’s proposal to broaden Medicare, recommend its abolition? Would he do away with myriad alphabet agencies? Of course not. Neither would she.
Moreover, the idea that the people can bring about some change in government by voting is mistaken, if not downright false. Is it reasonable to believe that the largest corporation in the country, if not the world, is going to put its leadership positions up for grabs every few years? I realize that the shareholders of corporations are occasionally asked to vote for members of the board of directors, but in my (admittedly very limited) experience, the candidates are simply shown to us, with a brief biographical note. I can’t recall any instance of a candidate indicating what, if anything, he was going to change if elected. And if a newly elected CEO were to take the company in a direction that shareholders disliked, they could sell their shares. If the President takes the country in a direction that I dislike, can I sell my shares? And, of course, I became a shareholder (in the "private sector") in the first place voluntarily, and can dispose of my shares at any time.
If I vote for a candidate who promises change, but fails to provide it, can I call for a vote to oust him? If, once in office, he lies to us, and makes us think the situation vis-à-vis the corporation is rosier than it actually is, can we indict him, à la Enron?
The only change we can expect from any new president is a continuation, perhaps at an accelerated rate, toward totalitarianism. The people who make changes in government policy and basic philosophy are behind the scenes. We are treated (if that’s the word) to the spectacle of political campaigns as part of a psychological exercise whose purpose is to provide the illusion of choice. This culminates in an election in which people pick a president, senator, etc. But the outcome is unimportant, in almost all cases, because any of the candidates is acceptable to the government’s owners and operators.
If people want change, let them stay home on election day. The outcome will be no different, but the rulers might get the message that people no longer want to participate in the charade of voting. Perhaps – and wouldn’t this be wonderful!! – they might even get the idea that the people have become fed up with the very concept of government!